Sometimes I think how nice it would be to be a professional book critic and get paid to read 60 some odd books a year and express my opinions on them. I would be so careful and astute in assessing each book’s achievements and limitations, what it seemed to be trying to do and whether it succeeded in doing so. My comments would reflect my deep and broad understanding of literary tropes and traditions. I would be able to hold the entire book in my head at once, so that I could see how the details built up into something larger than just the story.
Today, I am so glad this is just my personal blog and that I don’t owe anything to anyone, because this version of Sanditon was just so… so blah. Having tried to write stories myself, I know how much work goes into putting even a short story together, so I’m sure Juliette Shapiro worked long and hard on this completion. But it sure doesn’t read that way. Why should I put more effort into writing a review than it feels like the writer put into writing the book? This version rushes the central courtship (my Kindle told me I was at 87% when the proposal occurred), and then spends the remainder of the book (13%!) on an extraneous plotline involving characters the narrative has not prepared us to care anything about. There’s no major character growth for Charlotte or Sidney, since their one source of difficulty exists in a very basic misunderstanding over the manner of Sidney’s proposal. Neither of them has any objection to the other as a person, nor are there any significant external circumstances keeping them apart.
It seems that the point of writing a conclusion to a Jane Austen fragment is to at least attempt to adhere to her style and usual concerns. Aside from the fact that the heroine finds a husband, there’s no attention paid to the themes other Austen novels are built on. Some of the scenes are flagrantly out of place.
Even if it was not Shapiro’s intention to write “a Jane Austen novel,” the book has very little merit of its own. It is a rushed, incongruous, one-dimensional story that made me begrudge having to spend time reviewing it.